African American Studies

Director: Kathryn Morgan

The African American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that integrates the humanities, social and behavioral sciences and health related fields. A major in African American Studies leads to a Bachelor of Arts Degree. The Program also offers a minor. Since the Program requires only 40 hours for completion, students are encouraged to consider a "double major" with African American Studies.

The curriculum offered by the African American Studies Program advances knowledge about continental and diasporic African and African-American cultures and the history, literature, art, music, politics, economics, and religion associated with these cultures.

Our mission is to encourage critical thinking, develop analytical and writing skills, promote understanding and appreciation of contributions made by African Americans, and illuminate the complexity of race and the African American experience.

In addition to taking the required core classes for the major, students will have the opportunity to select one of three areas of emphasis: Global and Minority Health and Social Justice; Historical Investigation and Cultural Awareness; and History and Culture of Afro-Caribbean and Latino People.

The plan of study prepares students with critical knowledge, research skills, and communication skills to further their education in graduate and professional study in a variety of disciplines including  African American Studies, Public Health, Criminal Justice, Public Administration, and Education; obtain employment in public health, social sciences, business and related fields; communicate effectively; and demonstrate the application of knowledge through community engagement.

The revised curriculum provides students more course options for completing the requirements of the degree. The revised curriculum also provides Areas of Emphasis that lead to a variety of career and graduate school opportunities. The three areas include: Global and Minority Health and Social Justice; Historical Investigation and Cultural Awareness; and the History and Culture of Afro-Caribbean and Latino People. As an African American Studies major, students select an area of study and complete enough hours to pursue a Master’s or secure employment in that area. Students are able to develop goals early in their academic careers and strategies for achieving their goals.

In addition to the major in African American Studies, the Program also offers a minor. Students are required to complete 18 hours of coursework to fulfill the requirements for the minor. Students may also complete the minor online.   Online courses will allow students to fulfill the minor requirements.

Bachelor of Arts with a Major in African American Studies

AAS 100African American Studies Seminar1
AAS 200Introduction to African-American Studies3
or AAS 201 Honors Introduction to African American Studies
AAS 223African-Amer Hist to Civil War3
or AAS 224 African American History Since 1865
AAS 325Black Psychology3
AAS 330African Aesthetics and Traditional Religion3
AAS 350Research Methods in African American Studies3
AAS 420Public Health and Medical Issues in African Communities3
AAS 490African American Studies Internship3
AAS 493Capstone Seminar3
or AAS 495 Individual Studies
Students should select an Area of Emphasis and take 15 hours from the approved courses15
Black Image: Screen and Television
African Identity/Personality
Introduction to Medical Sociology
Minority Health
Introduction to Global Health
The Origins of Epidemics: How Public Health Defines Population and Nations
Controversies in Global Health
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Politics and Race in America
African Politics
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Introduction to the Criminal Justice System
Foundations of Law
The Judicial Process in America: An Overview
Race, Crime, Gender and Social Policy
Introduction to Peace Studies
Immigration Transnationalism and Diasporas
Anthropology of Slavery
Service Learning in Anthropology
The Rule of Law
Jazz Styles: History and Appreciation
History of Afro-Latin America
History of Afro-Latin America
African American Music
History and Tradition of Gospel Music
Black Image: Screen and Television
Race and Media
Ethnographic Filmmaking/SL
The Psychology of Hip Hop
African-American Special Topics
African-American Special Topics
African American Literature, 1746-1954
African American Literature, 1954-Present
African Literature
African Women's Literature
African American Autobiography
African American Dramatic Tradition
African American Poetry Tradition
The Slave Narrative and Its Literary Expressions
Black Women Writers
The Harlem Renaissance
African/Native American/Oceanic Art
Art Criticism and Theory
African-American History to 1865
African-American History Since 1865
Topics in African American History
U.S. Civil Rights Movement
Film in the 1960s
Rock n Roll and Race Relations
Mansions, Mines, and Jim Crow
Topics in African American History
History of Afro-Latin America
History of Afro-Latin America
Race and Representation
Introduction to Latin American History
Indians, Spaniards & Creoles
The U.S. and Latin America
Sex & Latin American Society
Peoples of the World: Latin America
Introductory Spanish I
Cultures of the Spanish-Speaking World
Greatest Hits of Hispanic Literature II
Afro-Latin American Literature and Culture
Special Topics in Spanish
Total Hours40

Minor in African American Studies

Select 6 courses from the following courses:
Jazz Styles: History and Appreciation
Introduction to African-American Studies
History of Sport: The African American Experience
Special Topics in African-American Studies
History of Afro-Latin America
African American Music
History and Tradition of Gospel Music
Race and Media
African Identity/Personality
Black Psychology
African Aesthetics and Traditional Religion
Research Methods in African American Studies
The Psychology of Hip Hop
Seminar in African American Studies
Public Health and Medical Issues in African Communities
Individual Studies
Introduction to African History and Culture
Pulpits in Protest: Social Change Speeches from the Black Church and Beyond
Total Hours:18

Proposed Program of Study for a Major in African-American Studies

First TermHoursSecond TermHours
EH 1013EH 1023
AAS 1001Core Curriculum Area IV: History13
AAS 200 or 2013Core Curriculum Area II: Humanities3
MA 1103Core Curriculum Area IV: Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Core Curriculum Area IV: History13AAS Elective3
Core Curriculum Area II: Fine Arts23 
 16 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
HY 2233HY 2243
AAS 3253AAS 3003
Core Curriculum Area II: Literature33Core Curriculum Area II: Humanities3
Select Course from Area of Emphasis43AAS 330 or HY 2243
Core Curriculum Area III: Natural Science with Lab4Area of Emphasis43
 16 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
EH 3653EH 3663
Core Curriculum III: Natural Science with Lab4AAS 3503
AAS 3353Area of Emphasis43
AAS Area of Emphasis53Electives6
 16 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
AAS 4203AAS 493 or 4953
Area of Emphasis43AAS 49063
Electives6Area of Emphasis43
AAS 3013Elective3
 15 12
Total credit hours: 120

Select One: HY 101, HY 102, HY 105, HY 120 or HY 121.


 Select One:  ARH 101, ARH 203, ARH 206, MU 120, THR 100, THR 105, or THR 200.


 Select One: EH 216, EH 217, EH 218, EH 221, EH 222, EH 223 or EH 224.


 Take 15 hours of coursework from the selected area of emphasis


 Must be 300 Level or above


 Must meet with the Program Director in the semester prior to completing the Internship.

African American Studies Honors Program


The purposes of the Honors Program in African American Studies are to promote academic excellence; provide opportunity for majors to do extensive study and research in the discipline; and prepare academically talented majors to pursue graduate school or professional careers.


  • completion of required AAS courses:
    • AAS 200 Introduction to African American Studies
    • AAS 320 (African Identity and Personality),
    •  AAS 350 (Research Methods in African American Studies) 
  •  undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.00
  • GPA of 3.25 in AAS courses
  • junior-senior level standing


  • completion of  required courses for the AAS major
  • approval by the Program Director
  • completion of  AAS 497 Honors Seminar (Fall Semester)
  • completion of  AAS 498 Honors Thesis/Project (Spring Semester)
  • formal presentation of the final project


Participation in the African American Studies Honors program provides opportunities for academically talented students to have unique access to faculty and to interact with other honors students in an environment that encourages creative and innovative thinking. Seminar participation and   research experience will be useful for graduate study or a career in the field. Completion of the Honors program is an advantage when applying to graduate programs. Finally, students who complete the program will be recognized at the African American Studies outstanding student ceremony and will graduate “With Honors in African American Studies.


For additional information and/or admission to the African American Honors Program, please contact:

Dr. Kay Morgan, Program Director
African American Studies Program
322 Heritage Hall
Birmingham, AL  35294-1152
Phone: 205-975-9651 or 975-9652


AAS 100. African American Studies Seminar. 1 Hour.

AAS 100 is an initial course that introduces new majors and minors to the field and the African American Studies Program. Emphases will be placed on exploring the history and development of the AAS Program, major and minor requirements, internship and service learning opportunities and career options. Required of all new majors & minors.

AAS 150. Let’s BMEN. 1 Hour.

Given the historical and current retention rate at colleges/universities in the U.S.; this class is designed to assist young scholars in navigating an academic environment. This course will explore issues such as masculinity, cultural identity, leadership and education relative to African American males. It seeks to provide students with tools and strategies that can be employed as they matriculate though their college experience.

AAS 165. Jazz Styles: History and Appreciation. 3 Hours.

American jazz with emphasis on instrumental and vocal performers, jazz bands, and combos. Development of big band, swing, and popular music.

AAS 200. Introduction to African-American Studies. 3 Hours.

Examination of seven core areas of African American Studies: History, Religion, Social Organization, Politics, Economics, Creative Production, and Psychology. Emphasizes major thematical theoretical and critical discourses of Black Studies, and its emergence as a political/social movement and discipline. Relates the latter to the complexity and diversity of contemporary movements such as Civil Rights, Free Speech, Black Power, and Afro-centricism. Majors and minors in African American Studies should complete this course before enrolling in any higher level AAS course. Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course. This course meets the Core Curriculum requirements for Area II: Humanities.

AAS 201. Honors Introduction to African American Studies. 3 Hours.

An advanced study of African American Studies as a discipline. Examines the seven core areas of the field with an emphasis on the major theories, critical discourses, and the emergence of Black Studies as a field of inquiry.

AAS 220. History of Sport: The African American Experience. 3 Hours.

This course provides a socio-cultural and historical overview of the African American athletes (male and female) that contributed to sports as we know them today. Focus will begin on the historical figures that helped shape sports culture and will continue into discussions about the role African-Americans play in collegiate and professionals sports today.

AAS 223. African-Amer Hist to Civil War. 3 Hours.

Survey of the African American experience from Pre-Colonial Africa to the End of the Civil War.

AAS 224. African American History Since 1865. 3 Hours.

Survey of late 19th century to present African American history.

AAS 235. Introduction to African History and Culture. 3 Hours.

Media representations of an uncivilized Africa marked by political instability, hunger and wars is pervasive. This introductory course on African culture and History takes the student on a journey of Africa from “inception” to date. The course will explore early empires of Africa and Africa’s rich political and cultural traditions, diversity, conflicts and religion. This course will analyze historical events like the Transatlantic slave trade, the scramble for, and partition of Africa, colonialism and neo-colonialism on the African Continent, the struggle for independence and the role of America in emergent African Nations; and current events like the role of the African Union, ECOWAS and other regional organizations and the influence of Africa in world politics. It will also introduce Students to African Diaspora – causes, patterns and peculiar conflicts of diasporic existence and assimilation into American culture and society. The course serves as a launching pad to understanding Black and African-American studies.

AAS 250. Special Topics in African-American Studies. 3 Hours.

Specific topic in African American Studies.

AAS 260. History of Afro-Latin America. 3 Hours.

This course surveys the history of those countries of Latin America, e.g. Cuba, Brazil and Colombia, that comprise the heart of the New World's African diaspora, having received most of the roughly 10 million Africans brought to Latin American shores during the centuries-long transatlantic slave trade. It explores the dramatic experiences of Afro-Latin Americans including their roles in the destruction of slave systems, creation of nations based on democratic principles, and rise of vibrant multicultural societies.

AAS 290. Writing in African American Studies. 3 Hours.

Course offers students continued practice in reading, research, and writing central to academic investigation and to interdisciplinary approaches. Develops skills in writing across disciplines and critical thinking. Emphasizes readings on diverse, contemporary, and multicultural issues in African American Studies. Writing, Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course.

AAS 300. African American Music. 3 Hours.

Survey, history and appreciation of African derived music and its presence in the United States from its earliest forms in spirituals, blues and jazz to contemporary forms of be-bop, hip-hop, reggae, and rap.

AAS 301. History and Tradition of Gospel Music. 3 Hours.

The purpose of this course is to broaden the knowledge of American Gospel Music history and to identify the valuable contributions of this genre by studying its eras and major contributors.

AAS 310. Black Image: Screen and Television. 3 Hours.

History and definition of the image of the African-ancestored people in the United States through cinema and television.

AAS 311. Race and Representation in Media. 3 Hours.

The course critically assesses the depiction of race in various visual media presentations. It explores how race is projected in media and how these media structures can create, support stereotypes of race and perpetuate social inequalities.

AAS 320. African Identity/Personality. 3 Hours.

This course is a study of the African identity, personality, and the concept of ¿blackness¿ with particular emphasis on what it means to be black in America. An adequate discourse on the complexities of African American Studies requires a multi-disciplinary approach that considers the expansive nature of the African Experience in North America. Accordingly, any substantive intellectual and scholarly foundation for critically understanding the salient areas of this course require the application of cross-discipline areas of study involving race, culture, socioeconomics, history, African American political behavior, and psychosocial theories of development. Quantitative Literacy is a significant component of this course.

AAS 325. Black Psychology. 3 Hours.

This courses examines and explores theory, research, and practice related to the study of psycho-social experiences from the worldview of Africans in America.

AAS 330. African Aesthetics and Traditional Religion. 3 Hours.

African aesthetics, African cosmology, and qualities of African spirituality.

AAS 335. The Psychology of Hip Hop. 3 Hours.

Psychology of Hip Hop uses hip hop music and culture as conceptual lenses for analyzing and interpreting the life experiences of people of African descent throughout the African diaspora. Drawing mainly on psychology as well as other social sciences, this course is intended to provide students with an understanding of the psycho-historical and psycho-social development of African Americans relative to hip hop culture. This course explores and examines the thesis that African American music is an expression of African American life. Thus hip hop music and culture serve as soundtracks that allow the opportunity to listen to and learn from this particular manifestation of what W. E. B. Du Bois called the souls/psychology of Black folk.

AAS 345. Pulpits in Protest: Social Change Speeches from the Black Church and Beyond. 3 Hours.

This course is largely constructed around the study and the discussion of four major social movements involving African Americans and the protest speeches, sermons, and songs given by women and men from the Black Church and beyond. The course demonstrates the power of oration and rhetoric and how this medium was leveraged to expose oppression and bring about social change of the oppressed. The course is organized chronologically with an emphasis on the ideas of black social thought within the black church, political protest, and the speeches, sermons, and songs given in a particular movement with efforts to initiate social change.

AAS 350. Research Methods in African American Studies. 3 Hours.

Research Methods in Africana Studies will introduce students to a general conceptual framework for ordering the social theories and methods that people of African descent have used to interpret and understand Africana life experiences.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 366. African American Literature II. 3 Hours.

Cultural values from James Baldwin in 1950s, through black nationalist, civil rights, and black feminist movements, to contemporary writers such as Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, and Toni Morrison.
Prerequisites: EH 101 [Min Grade: C] and (EH 102 [Min Grade: C] or EH 107 [Min Grade: C]) and AAS 200 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 400. Seminar in African American Studies. 3 Hours.

Specific topic in African American Studies.

AAS 420. Public Health and Medical Issues in African Communities. 3 Hours.

This course introduces students to important health issues that face the African American community. The goals are to increase awareness and stimulate discussion about health problems facing African Americans, factors believed to cause, contribute or worsen these problems, and steps now taken to alleviate or eliminate these problems.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: C]

AAS 448. African American Poetry Tradition. 3 Hours.

Development of African American poetry from its early works to the present, including Wheatley, Dumbar, Hughes, Brooks, and Angelou.
Prerequisites: EH 101 [Min Grade: C] and (EH 102 [Min Grade: C] or EH 107 [Min Grade: C])

AAS 490. African American Studies Internship. 3 Hours.

On campus and off campus training positions in filed utilizing cross disciplinary skills, with some positions offering external funding. Students should contact the Program Director for listings of available positions and application procedures. May be counted as elective only. Preq: Junior or senior standing as African American Studies major and approval of application. May be repeated once for credit. Permission of the Program Director is needed.

AAS 493. Capstone Seminar. 3 Hours.

Specific topics vary...The course will provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon and to use the knowledge, skills and dispositions developed in previous African American Studies coursework. This course or AAS 495 required of all AAS majors. AAS 493 is ideally taken in the final undergraduate semester. Preq: 9 hours AAS coursework at the 400 level and permission of the Program Director. 3 hours.

AAS 495. Individual Studies. 3 Hours.

Specific topics vary. An individually designed course for semi-independent research or guided readings in areas and subjects that synthesize the African American Studies core areas. The course will provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon and use the knowledge, skills, and disposition developed in previous African American Studies coursework. This course or AAS 493 required of all AAS majors. AAS 495 is ideally taken in the final undergraduate semester. Consult Program Director for procedure to apply for this course.

AAS 497. Honors Seminar. 3 Hours.

The African American Studies Departmental Honors Program requires completion of a two course sequence. This first course in the sequence provides students with an overview of the research process. Students are taught the basics of research, statistical analysis and techniques of making a formal presentation of research. Under the guidance of the Program Director and faculty mentor, students are required to develop an honors research project.
Prerequisites: AAS 200 [Min Grade: B] and AAS 325 [Min Grade: B] and AAS 350 [Min Grade: B]

AAS 498. Honors Project. 3 Hours.

Under the guidance of the faculty mentor, students complete the project and make a formal presentation of the research.
Prerequisites: AAS 497 [Min Grade: B]